Nutrient focus – Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is one of the nutrients that is often thought to be sparse in a plant-based diet. Whenever I’ve read cases against eliminating eggs, dairy or meat from one’s life, lack of vitamin B12 always gets a mention.
What no one talks about is why it’s difficult to obtain B12 from fruits and vegetables.
Let’s break it down to the basics. Vitamin B12 is synthesised exclusively by bacteria - plants and animals are incapable of making it themselves. Humans can only convert this vitamin to and from its various forms, but must initially absorb it from an external source. When it comes to animals, the bacteria in their intestines synthesise the vitamin and it’s then transported around their bodies. So any serving of meat, eggs, or dairy will almost inevitably contain a dose of B12. With non-animal products, it’s a little more complicated than that.
Fifty years ago, you would have been able to obtain your B12 from your vegetables because their skins would have carried residual amounts of soil, which would have contained plenty of these B12-synthesising bacteria. But nowadays, because most of our food is overly sanitised, homogenised, and pasteurised, it’s almost impossible to do so.
What I think this shows is that inherently, a vegan diet is not an ‘incomplete’ one. However in practice, it might be advisable to take a B12 supplement if you want to go completely plant-based in this day and age. There is no absolute right or wrong with these things; it’s all about what works best for you. Often if we’re not getting enough B12 we can feel burnt out and tired, and if this is the case I’d advise you to play around with your diet and tweak it, to see makes you feel amazing. Often the inclusion of a good quality serving of game of some organic eggs a few times a week can work wonders for how some people’s energy levels.
One thing to bear in mind is that vitamin B12 isnt something you necessarily need to watch every day, because the body keeps a store of it that can last for upto 3 years. So as long as you’re keeping an eye on it in a long-term way, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.